Don Feder: CPAC, Libertarians And Ron Paul

What A Conservative Isn'tGrassTopsUSA Exclusive Commentary By Don Feder 03-03-10

This is not about the libertarian freak-show that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has become. (“See the bearded lady pushing gays in the military and fighting the war on terrorism the way the French fought World War II.”)

Nor is it meant to be an indictment of Congressman Ron Paul — who is to serious political debate what Comedy Central is to philosophical inquiry.

Neither is it about Grover Norquist’s attempts to make the conservative movement jihad-friendly. Norquist — who sits on the board of the American Conservative Union, CPAC’s parent organization — is the godfather of the Islamic Free Market Institute, a past CPAC co-sponsor. (Do they cut your taxes before or after they cut off your head?)

Rather, the foregoing serve to illustrate widespread ignorance and illusion regarding a word — and it is a word whose correct understanding is essential to America’s survival — conservative.

Only conservatism can pull America back from the looming abyss: the nightmare of socialism, surrender, multiculturalism, junk science and sodomy-as-a-civil-liberty into which the 44th president of the United States is determined to plunge us.

But ersatz conservatives who go into battle armed with the premises of the left can’t conserve anything. CPAC 2010 shows the hopelessness of cafeteria-conservatism (take a little of this and a little of that, leave what you don’t want).

GOProud, a group of homosexual Republicans, was a proud co-sponsor of this year’s CPAC. How can a conservatism based on natural law welcome unnatural acts into its big tent?

GoProud demonstrated how many young “conservatives” will fall for anything wrapped in the banner of liberty. But freedom isn’t an absolute. (Those who can imagine no higher value are seriously lacking in imagination.) That aside, the freedom homosexual activists seek is power over the rest of us.

The gay agenda is about forced association. It would make a mockery of popular sovereignty.

The attempt to deconstruct marriage can only be accomplished by activist judges. Currently, 41 states define marriage only as the union of a man and a woman — most enacted by the ballot. Gay marriage, so-called, is an attempt by elitists to radically alter an institution on which society is based while ignoring the express wishes of overwhelming majorities.

Gay rights is about indoctrinating your children in behavior that would make a proctologist gag. It’s about criminalizing dissent via speech codes and hate crimes laws. It’s a frontal assault on First Amendment free speech and religious freedom. This is freedom only in the sense that killing unborn children is choice.

Speaking of unnatural acts, Ron Paul won CPAC’s presidential straw poll, with 31 % of the vote. Granted, only a quarter of the estimated 10,000 attendees voted. Still, Paul was the hands down favorite of those who cared enough to cast a ballot. His minions — lesbian, Nazi hookers abducted by aliens and forced to talk about abolishing the Fed — were everywhere.

Ron (America brought 9/11 on itself) Paul — now there’s a model for young conservatives to emulate. The Congressman from a galaxy far, far away believes that the legalization of heroin, cocaine and prostitution is consistent with our nation’s founding principles, as he explained to ABC’s John Stossel in a 2007 interview.

A melanin-deficient Jeremiah Wright, Paul believes the World Trade Center attack was blowback from our Middle East policy. How dare we deny Islam-ists their rich heritage — killing infidels, enslaving women, and spreading their creed by the sword?

Paul also believes Israel created Hamas, and the Cold War was an unnecessary conflict fueled by paranoia. He’s yet to say if blitzkrieg was invented by Winston Churchill.

Wonder what America did to provoke the Muslim conquest of Constantinople (1453), the occupation of Greece and the Balkans, the subjugation of Spain for almost 500 years, the persecution of Coptic Christians and other religious minorities, and the pogroms which swept Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s. I’m sure Paul will tell us shortly.

Islam had been the Arabian version of Murder Incorporated since its inception in the 7th century — but there are always useful infidels ready to blame every act of Islamic self-expression on America.

CPAC did include voices of the non-lobotomized. Florida Senate Candidate Marco Rubio cogently observed: “Let me be clear about something. These terrorists aren’t trying to kill us because we offended them. They attack us because they want to impose their view of the world on as many people as they can, and America is standing in the way.” The Americans standing in the way are called conservatives.

What, then, is a conservative? You won’t find the answer at CPAC 2010, which featured a session called “You’ve Been Lied To: Why Real Conservatives are Against the War on Terror.” (That would make Michael Moore, George Soros and Cindy Sheehan real conservatives.) Another breakout was billed as a debate — “Does Security (as in national security) Trump Freedom?” (But how can you have freedom without security?) — and featured former Republican Congressman and ACLU symp Bob Barr.

Let’s start with what a conservative isn’t:

• A conservative isn’t a libertarian. A conservative values freedom (individual liberty); a libertarian worships it. A libertarian recognizes no political value other than freedom. A libertarian is a utopian of the right. The left’s utopia is a government that’s all-inclusive. The libertarian’s is a government that’s non-existent — or nearly so. The left believes people are angels corrupted by capitalism. The libertarian believes people are angels corrupted by the state. The conservative believes humanity is flawed — hence, corruptible.

• A conservative isn’t rights-intoxicated. He believes in rights balanced by responsibilities. He knows the rights concept is often abused — i.e., the right of a woman to kill her unborn child, the right of homosexuals to serve openly in the military. When did military service become a right, rather than a duty? Does a senior citizen have a right to enlist in the Marines?

• Conservatives and liberals both believe in rights, but apply the concept differently. Conservatives would give you the right to raise and educate your children, run your business, speak your mind and dispose of the greater portion of your income. The left would give you the right to commit suicide, take drugs (essentially the same thing) and get a disease from a prostitute. The rights championed by conservatives have the most appeal for Main Street. Those championed by liberals appeal mostly to addicts, Tiger Woods and those seeking an escape from existence.

• A conservative isn’t reflexively anti-government — a government-hater. A conservative believes government is necessary. Limited to its proper functions, government is not a necessary evil but a positive good. Who will say that the Union was wrong to fight to free the slaves — or that America was wrong to destroy Nazi Germany and end the Holocaust? Only when it exceeds its proper functions, does government become that which it was created to restrain — murder, theft and other forms of aggression.

• Still, a conservative is skeptical of government as it’s currently constituted. When does a republic become a regime — when it confiscates 40% of the nation’s wealth, when it regulates business to the most minute detail, when it socializes whole industries in the guise of saving them, when it hamstrings productivity to counter a myth (global warming), when it mortgages the future to buy votes in the present, when redistributionism becomes the shining city on a hill?

• A conservative does not say, “I’m a conservative on economic issues but a social moderate.” A conservative applies fundamental principles consistently. He understands that a politician who won’t defend the unborn, marriage or the family, will ultimately betray the free market and limited government too — hence, Arlen Specter and your run-of-the-herd RINO.

• A conservative doesn’t worship the Dow Jones Industrial Average. He understands that freedom and a free market rest on a moral foundation — that a healthy economy can’t be maintained without healthy families.

• A conservative is neither an isolationist nor an interventionist. He neither longs for military adventures, nor does he avoid limited engagement today to forestall full-scale war tomorrow. A conservative believes in the use of military force when necessary, in pursuit of America’s just national interests.

• A conservative isn’t John McCain, who betrayed the right regularly for 20 years to win plaudits from the mainstream media, which honored him with the commendation “maverick.” Nor is a conservative Pat Buchanan (who thinks the Third Reich was misunderstood), Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich (who believes a conservative should put his conscience in a blind trust and rubber-stamp whatever absurdity the GOP offers for public office), the late William F. Buckley, Jr. (who hid behind a Thesaurus to avoid taking stands that might alienate his establishment friends) or David Brooks (The New York Times house-plant conservative) whose columns on Obama during the 2008 campaign read like mash notes from a groupie in heat.

When explaining authentic conservatism, my background is somewhat broader and deeper than your average talk-show host or CPAC speaker.

I joined Students for Goldwater in 1963. I was a leader of Young Americans for Freedom when it was the only effective opposition to the New Left on campus, and fought the scummy savages at Boston University from 1966 to 1972.

From 1976 to 1979, I was the first executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, the Massachusetts branch of the national tax revolt movement. I was executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation for two years, and a columnist for the Boston Herald for almost two decades (1983-2002). I’m currently fighting the war on a number of fronts, including as a free-lance writer and communications director of the World Congress of Families.

Still, it wasn’t until I read Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind” and Whittaker Chambers’ “Witness” in the late 1970s that I began to understand conservatism. As Kirk explained, unlike liberalism (which has morphed into leftism), conservatism isn’t a dogma, but a practical philosophy based on a set of enduring principles.

• A conservative is a constitutionalist. In interpreting the Constitution, he believes in the original intent of the Founding Fathers, and abhors the judges who use the Constitution as an excuse for reshaping society. The conservative believes the U.S. Constitution is the best method yet devised for governing a free people. He also understands that the genius of the Constitution is grounded in the greatness of Western civilization — that the Constitution is based on mankind’s political experiences over more than two millennia, stretching from Jerusalem to Athens to Rome to London. These are the lessons history begs us to learn.

• A conservative knows that Western civilization is founded on faith. Trying to divorce conservatism from the Bible is like trying to breathe without air.

• A conservative understands that every generation doesn’t confront a world made new, but rather the same old world clothed in the fashions of the day. Other than the march of technology, and society’s gyration from one fad to another, the world doesn’t change, because humanity doesn’t change. The wisdom of our ancestors is the best guide for the perplexed.

• A conservative celebrates America — its history, heritage and heroes. He is a patriot, not a nationalist. Nationalism is a blind allegiance which often ends in fanaticism. Patriotism is an informed judgment. For Americans, it is recognition of our national greatness — that over the past 234 years, America has been a safe harbor for its people and a blessing to humanity.

• A conservative defends our sovereignty, our language and our culture. That makes him a proponent of border security and English, and an opponent of multiculturalism, bilingualism and identity politics.

• Conservatism is based on three legs — faith, family and freedom. Remove any one and the structure collapses. Faith legitimizes the family by grounding it in eternity. Family teaches the moral lessons which make a free society possible. Combined with virtue, freedom creates the climate in which faith and family can flourish.

• The conservative's totem animal isn't an ostrich. He understands that there are powerful forces at work in the world which despise our way of life and would destroy it. Among America’s greatest glories is that it confronted and overcame such threats twice in the 20th century — by vanquishing Nazism in World War II and communism during the Cold War. Now, the menace is an expansionist Islam whose weapons are terrorism and subversion. The conservative understands that keeping America free requires vigilance and sacrifice.

• A conservative believes culture counts — that the media (news and entertainment) and education inform the sensibilities, especially those of the young. Who controls the culture controls the future. The great tragedy of the 20th and 21st centuries is that, while the right won political victories, the left won cultural victories that are rarely, if ever, reversed.

• A conservative believes in the virtuous society as much as the free society — that without virtue, America can not remain free. The Founding Fathers believed that the people who were slaves to their passions would soon be enslaved by others.

• A conservative decries the cult of equality, which holds that everything is as good as everything else (with the exception of white males) — that no moral code, lifestyle, economic or political system or religion is better than any other. The dumbness of this doctrine may be seen by posing the following questions to its adherents: Where would you rather spend the next five years of your life — in a Manhattan skyscraper, a Rwandan village, a hovel in Gaza or a North Korean labor camp? Who would you prefer as a neighbor: a religious Jew, a traditional Catholic, an evangelical Christian, a Satan-worshipper or a Shiite Muslim?

• A conservative confronts reality. He views the world not as he wishes it were but as it is. This distinguishes him from the liberal/leftist and the libertarian. The left confronts reality the way Neville Chamberlain confronted Hitler at Munich, the way Jimmy Carter confronted Soviet imperialism during his lamentable presidency and the way Barack Obama confronts double-digit unemployment and mega-deficits. Take head, insert firmly in sand.

Except for some fine speeches by the likes of Ann Coulter, Jim DeMint and Glenn Beck, reality was persona non grata at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference. Each year, CPAC’s attendance swells, the ACU gets more milk from its cash cow, and it all means less and less. It wouldn't be so bad if they changed the name to the Libertarian, Isolationist, Islamic, Homo-erotic Political Action Conference And Harvey Milk Appreciation Day.

Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website,